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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/74

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62
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of anomalies and extravagancies, yet plainly visible to the observant eye, stamps the beginning of the labor movement in Germany."

If confined to such lofty aims, the mission of socialism would be worthy of, and would command the sympathy and hearty cooperation of all enlightened people; but Mr. Göhre shows that it is necessary first to unmask the hypocrisy of social-democratic literature, to oppose the true to the false, the impartial to the partisan; he tells us that "German Social Democracy is to-day not merely a political party, not merely the promoter of a new system of economics, or even both of these and nothing more; it is also the embodiment of a philosophy, a logical, anti-Christian, materialistic conception of the universe. Upon this materialistic system it founds its economic and political system. This principle, the caricature of a so-called science, worshiped by its followers, is the corner stone of the party, gives it authority and ideals, and exercises the most fatal and lasting influence, not so much on the social and political tendencies as on the intellectual and ethical character of the whole German laboring class." This new gospel of socialism ran like wildfire among the hundreds of thousands of German workingmen. Herr Liebknecht tells us that "nearly two millions of men voted for the socialistic programme on the 15th of June, 1893, to whom must be added nearly a million of voteless young men between the ages of twenty and twenty-five years."

The spread of socialism in Germany has now reached the degree which is popularly termed with us a "craze." Its earliest converts became its new prophets, its inspired preachers; from inner conviction they gave their whole strength, their utmost capacity, to the cause. "Wherever two or three met together men set forth and discussed the thoughts they had imbibed from one book or half a dozen books of the new literature; sometimes fairly grasped, sometimes only half comprehended and more than half forgotten, but always brought afresh to their minds by the articles in their social-democratic paper. . . . The effect of this agitation was the one desired. Under its pressure all the old youthful training of the workman gave way and is still giving way in every individual who brings such training with him to a factory where the spirit of social democracy prevails."

If, now, we cull out these true and noble yearnings of the workingmen, discarding the sophistries of their self-elected leaders, we find that their aims are those which have already been largely attained by the wage-earning class in America through education; and while we may reasonably sympathize with the German "party of the discontented," we have nothing to gain by the dissemination of their socialistic literature, though they have much to learn from us.